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Thread: Bleeding red deer antlers.

  1. #1

    Bleeding red deer antlers.

    This morning I received a phone call from a friend, rather puzzled by a curious fact. In anAlpine gorge he found the carcass of a red stag, killed by an avalanche. As the antlers were nice my friend cut, boiled the head and put it to dry, with the skull up and the antlers down. After a while the antlers started dripping a liquid, looking like dark blood. Consider that the stag died in February or March, i.e. before casting the antlers and that it was standing, kept by the snow. Has anybody found anything similar? Has anybody an explanation?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by ofbiro View Post
    This morning I received a phone call from a friend, rather puzzled by a curious fact. In anAlpine gorge he found the carcass of a red stag, killed by an avalanche. As the antlers were nice my friend cut, boiled the head and put it to dry, with the skull up and the antlers down. After a while the antlers started dripping a liquid, looking like dark blood. Consider that the stag died in February or March, i.e. before casting the antlers and that it was standing, kept by the snow. Has anybody found anything similar? Has anybody an explanation?
    Could it not be as simple as the liquid(warm/hot)running down the antlers made some colour come off and it looked reddy brown.?

  3. #3
    Deer antlers grow by endochondral and intramembranous process. In plain language what this means is they grow from the tip forming cartilage first and this is then calcified by deposition of calcium + Whilst from the inside cartilage also grows and in turn is changed into less dense tissue ( spongy ). The calcification speeds up from 2/3 of the growth period. ( Glyn1 last year posted a brilliant photo series of antler growth whilst in velvet ) Due to the rapid growth of the antlers at this time they have the largest concentration of blood vessels in the body.When the velvet dies off there is still a blood supply to the inside of the antler, some of this blood lies trapped on the inside spongy part of the antler.This could account for the dark liquid ( blood breakdown ) Below is a photo of an antler broken when in velvet, which kept growing,showing development from both the outside and the and the core

  4. #4
    Very interesting, giving that it has a good blood supply would that mean that a growing antler in velvet also has nerve endings; meaning that the deer could feel pain in the growing antler until such time the velvet was shed?

  5. #5
    The blood vessels produce Neurotrophic factor (NTF) so that nerves grow along with the blood vessels to establish connection with the centres in the brain.This has been postulated as the antler growth centre (by Dr Bubenik in Canada) which gives form to the antlers in each succeeding season and also remembers past antler affecting injuries. Whilst in velvet the stag/buck is very conscious of sensation .This is why they box with front legs, like hinds, at this time. They obviously learn the range of their antlers as when in hard horn they know how to scratch particular areas of their body.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by morena View Post
    The blood vessels produce Neurotrophic factor (NTF) so that nerves grow along with the blood vessels to establish connection with the centres in the brain.This has been postulated as the antler growth centre (by Dr Bubenik in Canada) which gives form to the antlers in each succeeding season and also remembers past antler affecting injuries. Whilst in velvet the stag/buck is very conscious of sensation .This is why they box with front legs, like hinds, at this time. They obviously learn the range of their antlers as when in hard horn they know how to scratch particular areas of their body.
    Interesting, thanks for taking the time to explain.

  7. #7
    Many thanks for the explanations. However, the velvetdies in August, while the poor stag died in February-March. During these 6-7 monthsthe aqueous part of blood should have evaporated. Or not? Why is such ableeding very unusual? (Nobody among our colleagues had a similar experience).Is it possible that in this case the antlers were more spongy than normal?Thanks again.

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